The most recent issue of the Towers publication from SBTS reproduces a condensation of a pamphlet John Broadus wrote on “The Duty of Teaching Baptist Distinctives.” If the link doesn’t go straight to the article on the PDF, it’s on the lower third of page 5 (Towers, January 3, 2011). I’ve copied and pasted it below:
The Duty of Teaching Baptist Distinctives
by John A. Broadus
EDITOR’S NOTE: John A. Broadus (1827- 1895), founder and former professor at Southern Seminary, first published this material as a 35-page pamphlet with the American Baptist Publication Society. This article is a condensed version of excerpts from an issue of “The Baptist Vision.”
A duty we owe to ourselves
We must teach [Baptist] views in order to be consistent in holding them. Because of these we stand apart from other Christians. We have no right thus to stand apart unless the matters of difference have real importance; and if they are really important, we certainly ought to teach them.
This teaching is the only way of correct- ing excesses among ourselves. Do some of our Baptist brethren seem to you ultra in their denominationalism, violent, bitter? And do you expect to correct such a tendency by going to the opposite extreme? You are so pained, shocked, disgusted at what you consider an unlovely treatment of controverted matters that you shrink from treating them at all. Well, the persons you have in view would defend them-selves by pointing at you. Thus one extreme fosters another.
A duty we owe to our fellow Christians
It is urged that we ought to push all our differences into the background and stand shoulder to shoulder against Popery. It seems to us that the best way to meet and withstand Romanism is to take Baptist ground. Our brethren of the Protestant persuasions are all holding some “developed” form of Christian- ity, not so far developed as Popery, and some of them much less developed than others, but all having added something, in faith or govern- ment or ordinances, to the primitive simplicity. The Roman Catholics know this, and some- times say that the Baptists alone are consistent in opposing the [Roman Catholic] Church.
We may say that there are but two sorts of Christianity: church Christianity and Bible Christianity. If well-meaning Roman Catholics become dissatisfied with resting everything on the authority of the church and begin to look toward the Bible as authority, they are not likely to stop at any halfway house, but to go forward to the position of those who really build on the Bible alone.
It is not necessarily an arrogant and pre- sumptuous thing in us if we strive to bring our Protestant brethren to views that we honestly believe to be more scriptural, and therefore more wholesome.
A duty we owe to the unbelieving world
We want unbelievers to accept Christianity; and it seems to us they are more likely to accept it when presented in its primitive simplicity, as the apostles themselves offered it to the men of their time.
For meeting the assaults of infidels, we think our position is best. We can say to the skeptical inquirer, “Come and bring all the light that has been derived from studying the material world, the history of man or the highest philosophy, and we will gladly use it in helping to interpret this which we believe to be God’s Word.” There is in this freedom no small advantage for the truly rational inquirer.
But, while thus free to search the Scriptures, Baptists are eminently conservative in their whole tone and spirit; and for a reason. Their recognition of the Scriptures alone as author- ity, and the stress they lay on exact conformity to the requirements of the Scriptures foster an instinctive feeling that they must stand or fall with the real truth and the real authority of the Bible. The union of freedom and conservatism is something most healthy and hopeful.
A duty we owe to Christ
It is a matter of simple loyalty to Him. He met the eleven disciples by appointment on a mountain in Galilee; probably the more than 500 of whom Paul speaks were present also: “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, all power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have com- manded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”
The things of which we have been speak- ing are but a part of all the things which Jesus commanded; what shall hinder us, what could excuse us, from observing them ourselves and teaching them to others? Shall we neglect to teach as He required, and then claim the prom- ise of His presence and help and blessing?